As far as self-directed musical education goes, mine was uniquely slow and awkward.
My parents were immigrants from very austere living situations in their home countries. So austere that, even as twenty-somethings in the sixties, the seismic shifts in pop culture and music were so far removed from their reality that they missed it entirely. (Asking my father about the Rolling Stones will only win you a quizzical glance. Ask him about science, engineering or history, and epic lectures will ensue). After moving to Canada they had very limited time and money to devote to the very first world pursuit of « consuming » music.
But, as many struggling immigrants often do, they encouraged my sister and I to take up an instrument, preferably inexpensive ones. Rebel that my sister was, she chose piano. (Sorry Ma)
When it came to discovering music, we had free reign. It could have been a harsh desert to wander, but fortunately there appeared Much Music which debuted in 1984. The same year that my sister and I jointly purchased the Rock ’84 LP. (Thank you K-Tel! Rock ’84 )
It was an auspicious, yet humble beginning to my musical education.
One of my goals at this year’s FME is to mine the stories of musical awakening from the mouths of the the artists themselves. I want all the pimply awkwardness, as well as the tearfully profound moments of discovery.
To all the musicians and festival goers of FME: please feel free to open up about your musical youth when Zeus comes calling. Everyone can benefit from revisiting those innocent times, and it makes for some great drinking stories.
Like a long shot contender at a beauty pageant blathering on about how I’d achieve world peace and how children are the future, I was so flattered and excited to be asked to write last year for La Bouche Croche, that I just dove right in to the sights and sounds of my third FME without regard to shoring up my credibility with any kind of personal background.
So, it’s dawned on me as I prepare for another bout of FME blogging that it may be helpful to know a bit about me:
I’m « differently abled », meaning I’m an anglophone, but of mixed Mexican-Italian heritage from small-town BC. (The province that educates their young about Quebec by terrifying them with tales of Jesuit « saints » and the ever imminent threat of Canadian Balkanization through « separation ».)
I post under the name « Zeus ». It was the middle name my father wanted to give me, but common sense prevailed. I’ve often wondered who I would have turned out to be with a name like that…
I studied music (specifically Jazz) with great zeal in my youth. A few things kept me from pursuing it as a career:
1. I played jazz.
2. I played saxophone.
Even if I were to have been wildly talented and successful, as the wildly talented and successful Canadian saxophonist Phil Dwyer would say, « It’s still the kind of place well suited to the Witness Protection Program ».
Did my musical education prepare me for the sonic Bacchanal that is FME? Not really. But it did tune my ears to recognize great musicians no matter what they play.
As I quiver with anticipation for my fourth FME, I know for certain that the lineup will be freshly fantastic.
This festival has not just become the pyre on which my musical expectations are burned, but my own (musical,and not so) Quiet Revolution.
So, stay tuned, my fellow FME-ers for honest, incisive, yet hipsterism free ramblings from a recovering Jazz Catholic.